Tuesday, December 08, 2020 Ayesha Hawkins

The word Hanukkah in Hebrew is translated into the word dedication. This is a Jewish winter holiday called the festival of lights. The holiday lasts eight days and is celebrated nightly with the lighting of the menorah, special prayers, and special fried foods. The holiday brings light, joy, and warmth to homes and communities. Although not mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, it is, however, mentioned in the New Testament, in which Jesus attends a "Feast of Dedication." Hanukkah came to be widely celebrated and remains one of the most popular Jewish religious observances.

The holiday celebrates and commemorates the victory of a small group of Jewish rebels led by Judah Maccabee and his brothers over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and "rededication" of the Temple in Jerusalem. According to tradition, Judah Maccabee and the other Jews who took part in the rededication of the Second Temple witnessed what they believed to be a miracle. Even though there was only enough untainted olive oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a single day, the flames continued flickering for eight nights, leaving them time to find a fresh supply. This wondrous event inspired the Jewish sages to proclaim a yearly eight-day festival.

In modern times, traditional Hanukkah foods are fried in oil. Potato pancakes (known as latkes) and jam-filled donuts (sufganiyot) are particularly popular in many Jewish households. Other Hanukkah customs include playing with four-sided spinning tops called dreidels and exchanging gifts. By the 1920s, however, Jews increasingly added gift-giving to their Hanukkah celebrations, prompting some people to refer to Hanukkah as the "Jewish Christmas." it would be incorrect to regard it as an imitation of Christmas with an emphasis on the exchange of presents. Rather, North American Jews use this holiday as a celebration of family, reinforcing Jewish identity and to feel a kinship with their neighbors.

Books on Topics

Early Learning (0-4)

School Age (5-8)

Tween (9-12)

Teen (13-17)

Adult (18+)

Reference Links: